|Shamanism is a worldwide spiritual impulse that arises spontaneously in some individuals.|
- (Wisdom Quarterly) The Buddhist definition of a shaman is a "wandering ascetic," a shraman as distinct from a "temple priest" or Brahmin. When the Scythian/Sakyian Prince Siddhartha Gautama wanted to become a seeker or recluse or shaman it was because he was inspired by the sight of one.
- Therefore, Buddhism did not invent the concept. There already existed in Central Asia (the area of the world from Northwest India up to North Asia, Ukraine, and Siberia) spiritual wanderers on quests of one kind or other, driven by spirit voices or other impulses, such as the quest for enlightenment (bodhi) and liberation (moksha). Vedic seers (rishis) and sadhvis/sadhus (holy persons), yogis and munis (ascetics, mendicants, sages). The Scythian Sage, Shakya-muni, is a popular title of the Buddha, who encouraged his monastic followers to adhere to a wandering lifestyle (Sramana Movement) and a forest tradition of meditation away from the maddening crowd.
|Young samanera studying text in Burma|
|Buddhist shaman, Yarchen Gar Monastery (F)|
|Medicine men: often women|
From that perspective, then, any attempt at a single definition is irrelevant. But there is value in bringing integrity and coherence to an understanding of shamanism, if only to operate with clarity and precision of definition.
|Mexican shamans are curanderos ("healers") often confused with brujos ("witches")|